Consultation started on possible new rules to make buses more tech-enabled
The UK’s bus firms could be made to offer live updates on their services under new rules being considered by the government.
Ministers will consult on making operators share their data on routes, timetables and fares so users can get up-to-the-second information online. The law could also be changed to make sure vehicles are kitted out with audio and visual information to help disabled and elderly passengers.
The move, announced yesterday, comes just a day after Theresa May was forced to defend the government’s record on the sector in a Commons clash on Wednesday.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said fares had increased by 13% more than inflation since 2010, despite services being cut and passenger numbers plummeting. May insisted during Prime Minister’s Questions that changes in work habits were behind declining bus use.
The government said the announcement would lead to quicker and easier journeys for passengers.
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Buses minister Nusrat Ghani said: “Nobody enjoys waiting at a bus stop for 20 minutes not knowing when the next bus is going to turn up, only for two to then pull up at the same time. By requiring bus operators to share their data, we can make sure that passengers have the information they need to catch the bus with ease, equipped with the right information about the time and cost.
She added: “This move will also open up opportunities for innovation within the industry, support local services where demand is falling and help increase bus usage across the country.”
Ghani made the announcement in Reading, where she said that a range of initiatives to boost passenger information has led to a 49% increase in use since 2009.
Corbyn this week called for local authorities to be handed more powers to increase service regulation, and he demanded an end to bus budget cuts.
“Under this government bus services are in crisis,” he told the House of Commons. “Fares are increasing, routes being cut, passenger numbers falling, isolating elder and the disabled people, damaging communities, high streets and actually leading to more congestion in our towns and cities.”
But Theresa May said the government had devolved bus powers to metro mayors and argued responsibility for buses lies largely with councils.